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A Travel Guide to Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union

A Travel Guide to Urbiztondo, La Union

La Union may not be the surfing capital of the Philippines, but due to its relatively proximity to NCR, it tends to be more popular and more frequented to (not to mention that it’s more affordable than booking a flight to Siargao). It’s also home to an emerging beach-party culture, and a refuge for those broken by love.

Surfer's Village, Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union

How to Get to Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
There are bus lines/terminals scattered around Metro Manila that will take you to La Union. The one we availed was Partas bus line in Pasay. We took the night schedule departing at 11:00 PM (one way ticket costs about P600). We arrived in Sebay, San Juan, La Union at about 5:00 AM, with the entire trip taking approximately 6 hours. Other schedules especially those in the afternoon might take more than 6 hours due to traffic. Hence, if you're comfortable sleeping in the bus, the night schedules are more advisable.

Surfing in Urbiztondo Beach, La Union

Catching La Union’s wave
Before anything else, La Union’s popularity was primarily built upon the conduciveness of its beaches for surfing. Hence, if you are into the sport, La Union really stands out as a quick getaway (approximately 5-6 hours away from Metro Manila).

Barkada getaway/vacation in La Union

Thinking of finishing a book by the shore? Well, you may want to rethink that

No lounge chairs and cabanas
For non-surfers, the beach in itself is fine. You can enjoy the waves cradling you while getting all burned up under the sun. However, if you are the type of person who likes to be on the beach-side but doesn’t really enjoy getting all wet, La Union may be a source of disappointment. The shoreline is pretty basic (mostly sand and rocks). There are no cabanas to chill in and lounge chairs to sit on. Thinking of finishing a book by the shore? Well, you may want to rethink that.

Renz Cheng (www.wanderkidtravels) in San Juan, La UnionRenz Cheng (www.wanderkidtravels) in Urbiztondo, La Union

As a remedy, you may want to bring a beach towel (or blanket) with you, and perhaps even a beach umbrella (but who does that?). Hence, if chilling by the beach is what you like, there are better alternatives than La Union. I suggest beaches along Laiya, Batangas (read more).

Evolving Party Culture in Urbiztondo, La Union

Evolving beach-party culture
La Union used to be known for a simple off-the-grid living, but that’s now being eroded by a newer wave of beach-party culture. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, though I’m not saying it’s good either. It’s pretty much neutral, and it’s for you to say.

The IG-monsters swarm in La Union to get trendy

Parties and gigs are spread around La Union. You can normally find them in roofdeck of hostels (or hostels in general). The most popular establishment that embodies this new emerging culture is Flotsam Jetsam (read more). It’s where you can chill, dance and party with other beach-goers. Who knows, you might even meet someone special during your stay.

If this, however, is not your cup of tea, there are still parts of La Union that give that off-the-grid vibe. All you need to do is stay off from the tourist spots and go to the other parts of La Union.

Great Northwest trendy food park in La Union

...if good food is something you eye for, lower down your expectations when you visit La Union

Food specialty - still a work in progress
Although there are two key food parks in Urbiztondo, La Union (The Great Northwest and Beach Bum), there aren’t anything that really stood out. Most of the restos or food stalls focused more on making their dishes IG-worthy rather than palate-worthy. We also failed to discover any specialties that define La Union’s cuisine. Hence, if good food is something you eye for, lower down your expectations when you visit La Union.

Thankfully, La Union's coffee is a saving grace, and you can find great beans and coffee drinks around the place. If you want the best coffee, try to veer away from the trendy ones. *wink wink*

Coffee drinkers in Elyu (La Union) -- El Union Coffee

I'm sharing as well the list of restaurants/stalls we visited during our stay as well for your reference:
  • El Navi 
  • Makai Bowls
  • Sabong Fried Chicken
  • TGK Zzzighaws
  • El Union Coffee
  • Flotsam & Jetsam
  • The Coffee Library
There! Hopefully this article was able to set your expectations right when you visit La Union. I personally had a very different expectation, and I wish could have known these things before we actually went to La Union.

Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union Quick Guide

Things to see/do: Surf the beach, attend gigs in hostels, party in Flotsam & Jetsam and be trendy in The Great Northwest food park

Budget needed: Approximately P5,000 (close to USD 100) for a three (3) day-stay in the area inclusive of the bus fare, accommodation, food and etc.

Is it wander-worthy? Yes, as long as you have the right expectation you will find paradise in this place, which is why I wrote this guide to prevent any disappointment

How to get there: There are multiple bus terminals in Metro Manila that has La Union as their destination. The one we particularly availed of is Partas bus line located in Pasay, Metro Manila near LRT - Edsa Station or MRT - Taft Station. Ticket costs P600 one-way.

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